God’s Hobby: Answering Prayers?

“How many of us really believe Jesus loves to answer prayer?”

I had never thought of that until I read Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. Bridges mentions that one of John Newton’s hymns says this:

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:

Jesus loves to answer prayer;

He himself has bid thee pray,

Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,

Large petitions with thee bring;

For his grace and power are such,

None can ever ask too much.

In his book, Bridges follows this hymn with the quote at the top of this post:

“How many of us really believe Jesus loves to answer prayer?”

Had I ever thought of that? Not really. The concept surprised me, but then… it made sense in light of Matthew 7.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

How much more will the Lord give good things to those who just ask.

Do things always work out the way we ask the Lord to work them out? In my experience, no. However, that shouldn’t keep us from bringing our petitions to the Lord. Did the possibility that my mom would say “no” ever keep me from asking her to buy oreos or fishsticks when she went to the store? Nope!

The Lord already knows what is on my heart, yet He wants me to ask Him. He wants me to express the desires and the cries of my heart in my own words. Thinking that the Lord loves to answer prayer encourages me to come to Him more, not necessarily asking for more, but talking out my feelings and my motives and my desires with Him. He never gets tired of me coming to Him to ask for wisdom and growth and Truth.

The Lord’s timing is so different from my own, but I will still go to Him, pouring my heart out before Him. If I trust His timing, I won’t worry about how He answers prayer, but I will rest assured that He will answer my prayers.

{Sometimes, it is really hard to remember the things you’ve learned or to really believe them.}

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My Soul Waits

“Don’t pray for patience!”

Maybe you’ve never heard that phrase, but I’m pretty sure I have heard it joked about since my middle school days. It comes from this idea that God teaches us patience through opportunities and circumstances in which we must be patient. Who wants to ask for something like that? Really? We want it now – the answers, the test results, the food, the stuff, to arrival. Why would we ask God to give us something that, culturally, we don’t want? We don’t want to wait. But there is a very different view of patience and waiting in the Scriptures.

There has been a cry of my heart lately that just echoes the words of the psalmist:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Psalm 62:1-2, 5, 8

What a beautiful thing! When I read this, I have a great picture of my soul waiting, fully dependent on the Lord and trusting in His timing and His plan.

This soul waits, looks to the future, hopes for heaven.

And this soul of mine has been learning this all of my first semester of college, especially. God has been pouring lesson after lesson into my life about looking to heaven, being joyful amidst trials because of the reward of heaven, and praying for the return of the Lord.

So my soul waits.

It waits on the Lord. In that waiting, it is peaceful and comforting, not frustrating or upsetting. This active patience says to the Lord that I trust His plan even when I don’t understand it. My soul is not waiting for something that is temporary, but it is waiting for heaven, taking the temporary in stride, recognizing it for what it is. That is a beautiful kind of patience – the anticipation of what is to come.

{Read here next.}

Are You Hungry?

I seem to be hungry all the time. (I’m not quite sure why, though, since I haven’t gotten any taller for the past 4 years.) Hunger is a natural part of life. Our bodies need food in order to function.

As fallen people, we also hunger for purpose. We spend our lives searching for the reason we were placed here on earth. We need the purpose that God provides in order to live life to the fullest.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, he spoke to the crowds and delivered a powerful message. During the “Sermon on the Mount,” here’s one of the things Jesus said:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Matthew 5:6

Jesus knew that true satisfaction – a full belly and quenched thirst – would only come from a relationship with Him. In John, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that He has living water. A couple chapters later, Jesus calls Himself the bread of life.

Clearly laid out in Scripture is this: we, as believers, are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. We are to desire a growing relationship with the Lord. We are to spend time in the Word of God so that we can spiritually grow.

One day, it will be too late.

Amos made a prophesy for the nation of Israel that came to pass while Saul was king and Israel was in captivity. He said:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
    “when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
    but of hearing the words of theLord.
 They shall wander from sea to sea,
    and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
    but they shall not find it.

 “In that day the lovely virgins and the young men

    shall faint for thirst.”

Amos 8:11-13

Israel experienced the hunger and thirst for the Word of God, for righteousness, yet they waited too long. They lost their chance because of the hardness of their hearts.

Don’t wait that long. Don’t wait until it is too late for your hunger to be satisfied and you thirst quenched. Pursue the Lord now. Allow Christ Jesus to satisfy you. It is so fulfilling to be satisfied as I pursue Christ with a hunger and a thirst for righteousness and for His Word.

So.

Are you hungry yet?

Define: Growth

What is the definition of growth?

“He really needs to grow up.”

“She has a lot of growing up to do.”

What is that supposed to mean? Typically, I hear this phrasing in relation to spiritual growth. In that case, here is my definition:

Growth is the recognition of sin, the repentance of sin, and the abandonment of sin.

As we recognize sin in our lives and repent from conduct that is unbecoming for believers, we grow up. In other words, growing up spiritually is the process of sanctification.

Maturity is about accepting responsibility for our actions. That’s hard to do sometimes. Everybody likes to play the blame game at some point in life. Or is that just me? I know I have gone through phases of perfecting my ability to blame other people for my mistakes and idleness. But I’m learning to own up to my actions. I am building up my responsibility. I am growing up.

I am praying that Christ would sanctify me. I need His Word and His Spirit to point out where I need to mature and change my life. This is my prayer for you:

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Laboring in the Whitened Fields

To work or not to work on Labor Day – that is the question.

Actually, it’s not really a question I’ve considered today. Balancing relaxation and work is not always easy, but I’ve tried to do that today with a little extra sleep, a nice run, and some homework.

Work.

Labor Day = food (at least, it usually means food)

Now check this out:

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

John 4:34-38

Christ lays out what sustains Him: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” Jesus knew His purpose and He knew that carrying out this purpose would produce the greatest satisfaction.

Sometimes, my desire for a lazy day blinds me: “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”  I’m so focused on doing my own thing that I can sometimes miss what is right in from of me. Opportunities, hidden motivation (you know, that motivation you get after you finally start a project), and the fields that are ripe for harvest pass me by as I focus on myself and my comfort.

I know this passage isn’t about me. Ultimately, this passage points to God’s work. He is preparing people for the gospel, and if we aren’t aware, we will miss opportunities to speak with people. Sometimes, we sow – we plant the seeds of the gospel, we help get people thinking. Other times, we reap – we get to pray with someone to receive Christ, we see life change happen. Either way, it’s so important that we keep our eyes open to what God is doing in the world.

So are the fields white for harvest? What are you missing out on because you aren’t paying attention?

(Please excuse the very informal and rambling post as it is Labor Day, and I didn’t want to go overboard on my labor for today.)

Perfection

Perfection.

Everyone strives for it in one way or another, whether they realize it or not. Finding the perfect college, the perfect job, the perfect car, or the perfect house are a few huge desires for perfection. But what about things like making the perfect goal, writing the perfect paper, running the perfect mile? Don’t we look for perfection in various areas?

I can honestly say that it has been so long since I have blogged because I wasn’t sure how to follow up my last blog post (which got a BUNCH of views). I needed a “perfect” follow-up blog post. (Plus, I’ve been pretty busy.) But is the goal of perfection realistic? I don’t think so.

 

Within Christianity, salvation does not mean perfection.

 

When God declared someone righteous, he is JUSTIFIED. An individual’s first act of repentance and confession is the person’s part of justification, but God was the One who made salvation possible through His son.

 

Believers are set apart – or sanctified – by God at salvation. First Peter 2:9 says that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” and we are set part to declare the marvelous light of Christ. God declares believers holy, now brought to Himself because He has washed us white as snow. This sanctification declares the believer’s position in relation to God – we can now enter into His presence.

 

Progressive sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

The Holy Spirit convicts believers to live a life of increasing holiness, as new creations set apart for the glory of God (Colossians 3:9-10). As spiritual beings, we struggle against the desires of the flesh daily (Galatians 5:16-18). The believer’s desire should be holiness because his Father in heaven is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). {Click the Bible verses to read the passages on Bible Gateway.}

 

And then, one day, we will see God. His glory will be revealed, and we will be made perfect, never tiring, always praising our Father. We will reach the ultimate goal of perfection. Until then, Paul writes of this goal:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

Philippians 3:12

 

So is it wrong to aim high in our earthly goals? No. Colossians 2:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” But remember, we, as humans, are not perfect. And nothing we do is perfect. But we can “press on,” seeking the God who made us His own.

Like vs. Love

When I saw this video by a YouTube celebrity who has quickly been gaining attention, I thought of a post I wrote last year, titled Agape Love.

(Click here to read it.)

Oh, I was so amused! Why doesn’t the English language have more than one word for love? Hmm… That would have been a smart idea. Apparently, the Greeks got that one right, but the English speaking population didn’t. However, there’s always the substitution option of “like” when talking about food, music, events, and numerous other things.

Well, have a great day, guys!

Superman Returned 2,000 Years Ago

Jor-El: Live your life as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed.  Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage.  They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be.  They only lack the light to show the way.  For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

John 8:12

I want to show you a couple more pieces of dialog from “Superman Returns.”  (These next pieces of dialog relate to the article “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman,” written by Lois Lane.)

Superman: I read the article, Lois.

Lois Lane: Yeah, so did a lot of people.  Tomorrow night, they’re giving me the Pulitzer. . .

Superman: Why did you write it?

Lois Lane: How could you leave us like that?  I moved on.  So did the rest of us.  That’s why I wrote it.  The world doesn’t need a savior.  And neither do I.

“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own peopledid not receive him.”

John 1:9-11

 

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

Psalm 118:22

[Superman takes Lois Lane up into the sky]

Superman: Listen; what do you hear?

Lois Lane: Nothing.

Superman: I hear everything.  You wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

Have you ever watched a movie and something in it just really stuck out?  The dialog of “Superman Returns” did just that when I watched it a couple weeks ago.  God sent His Only Son to a world in need of a Savior; a world crying out for a savior, yet rejecting Him who came to save them.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

God sent us a Superman, a Savior.  We did nothing to deserve the gift of God’s Son.  It is purely a gift.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:4-10

 

So we have a job to do.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:20

 

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

It’s time to proclaim the excellencies of the Savior of the world, our Superman.

I know today I haven’t written much in my own words, but. . .

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

Letting Go

Holding onto things is something I can do really well.  However, when I hold onto something, and God wants to give me something better, I can’t grasp both.  Two things that I’ve learned to hold well over the years are grudges and habits.  Sometimes, we have to let go of things like this, sometimes we need to.

 

Grudges.  When someone angers or frustrates me because of something they said or did, I can take that and “justify” my anger.  But that doesn’t do me any good.  And why, when I have been shown mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness from the God of the Universe, should I withhold it from one in my position?  I have been forgiven of every sin past, present, and future.  The forgiveness of God should overflow from my life onto those around me. 

 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:12-13

 

Letting go of grudges. . .

 

Habits.  Personally, I struggle with procrastination.  When I don’t want to do something, my first response is generally procrastination.  And that is a horrible first response.  When I procrastinate, I am saying that I will do something later.  Well, here’s what God’s Word says:

 

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Proverbs 27:1

 

I am not using the time that the Lord has given me to glorify Him, but to give Satan a foothold.  Time spent in idleness does absolutely nothing to further the kingdom of God.  Satan wants believers to be stagnant, so that they cannot encourage others in the God’s work. 

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  It may bring an end to my life, and then what can I do to further the kingdom?  Nothing.  I want to use my time well.

 

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Because of my freedom in Christ, I could procrastinate.  But it will NOT build up others or myself.

 

Letting go of bad habits. . .

 

These are just two things that I am learning to let go of.  I want to replace grudges for compassion, and procrastination for time management.  Each day, I want to be sanctified, building better habits in all aspects of my life.

 

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

 

“God Gave Me This Song!”

“God gave me this song!”

“Maybe you should give it back. . .”

-Tim Hawkins

Have you ever claimed that God told you something?  I’ve never heard an audible voice from God, but I know that I have claimed God has called me to do something or go somewhere before.  The first example that comes to mind is my claim that God has called me to missions, specifically in China.  On Wednesday at Refuge, Pastor Frank made a convicting statement:

“If you are claiming to get direct revelation from God, then you have established yourself as a prophet and must be tested as such.”

My reason for sharing information about prophets should make sense in just a minute.  First, here are three things that have to do with the identity of true prophets, thanks to Pastor Frank and Deuteronomy 18:18-22:

1.  Receives direct revelation from God that can deal with the past, present, and/or future.

2.  Speaks in God’s name and on God’s authority.

3.  Must be 100% accurate without exception.

I want to clarify that I am not a prophet.  I would really like to go to China.  I have claimed that God has called me to go to China, but if I don’t go, either I’m a false prophet, or God is wrong.  And God CANNOT be wrong.

Jesus says this in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

So Christ has commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations.  Missions should be part of a Christian’s walk with God, whether it is locally or internationally.  Through my circumstances, I’ve learned to adapt to new surroundings more easily than some people.  I feel that my adaptability is a skill that could really help me on the mission field.  Plus, I really enjoy working with teenage girls, and there are a lot of girls of every age in China who have been abandoned by their families.  China is somewhere I would like to go, but if God has other plans for me, I know they will be much better.  I don’t honestly feel a “divine calling” from God to go to China; it would make sense to go somewhere where I could work with teenage girls, but China isn’t the only country with teenage girls.  China is the second country with the most unreached people groups, behind India.  I’m interested in spending some time in both of those countries, and in several other countries as well.

China fits together with my interests.  I know that it is God’s will for me to share Him with everyone that I come in contact with, and I want to do that.  However, I can’t assume that God wants me to go to a specific country because of any “feeling.”  I’m going to Nicaragua this summer, and for all I know, I will become attached to the people there.

Right now, I am open to every opportunity I am presented with in missions, or in anything else.  God can use me however He sees fit, even if it’s not what I expected in the first place.  Now, this blog isn’t just about my journey to China, but my journey in missions and in life.  Even if I don’t go into missions full-time, I know that I want to be involved in short-time missions.  I would still like to share my journey with y’all, no matter what God’s plan is.

I apologize if I just rambled a lot in this blog post.  Everything is still floating around in my head, but I wanted to share this with y’all.  I love you guys!